Free Agents: Brandon Rush, Shabazz Muhammad (Restricted), Adreian Payne, Omri Casspi
2016-17 Wolves Weaknesses: 30th: 3-Point Attempts, Bench Points, Backcourt Points. 29th: Defensive Rebounding, Two-Point Percentage Defense, Point Guard Scoring. 28th: Field Goal Percentage (Defense), Shooting Guard Scoring. 27th: Defensive Rating. 25th: Total Rebounding, Pace 24th: Power Forward Points. 23rd: Three Point Defense. 20th: 3-Point Percentage, Non-Paint Points.
2016-17 Wolves Strengths: 1st: Frontcourt Scoring, Small Forward Scoring. 3rd: Center Scoring. 5th: Free Throw Percentage. 6th: Free Throws Made, Offensive Rebounding. 8th: Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Attempts. 9th: Assists. 10th: 2-Point Percentage, Offensive Rating.
2017-18 (3) Largest Contracts: Gorgui Dieng $14.112,360. Ricky Rubio $14,100,000. Nikola Pekovic $11,600,000.
Player Options: None.
Before the trading deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons entered into talks that centered on point guard Reggie Jackson. It was sign of desperation. Reggie Jackson isn’t a savior by any stretch of the imagination but the Wolves point guard problems were severe in 2016-17. Ricky Rubio is a good defender but can’t lead the team and his scoring has never improved. What you see from Rubio is what you are going to get, 11 points, 9 assists. The Wolves had the second worst point guard corps, only the 76ers were worse. Rookie Kris Dunn wasn’t what everyone thought he was going to be, at least not yet, this early in his career, 3.8 points, 2.4 assists. The Wolves point guards were responsible for 14.9 points, 39.9%, 31.2% from three. They were simply not guarded so Towns and Wiggins had an automatic double team. It made life harder for the Wolves. The Jackson deal never progressed to almost stage- lucky for the Wolves. Now they have a new target. Derrick Rose.
The former MVP had a good year with the Knicks but good for Derrick Rose is a downgrade. Great is what Rose used to be. But all the surgeries robbed him of his lightening speed, particularly on defense. But Rose is still Rose at the rim. He can blow by and finish spectacularly. He has a little bit of a shot but Rose was never Steph Curry. His speed separated him. But even as Rose was not who he used to be, league MVP, he is better than any of the Wolves point guards.
Scoring isn’t the Wolves problem. They scored the same amount of points as the Spurs. But they have two glaring issues. Defense and leadership. A capable Derrick Rose will have no impact on the first and will be an upgrade on the second.
Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau had their greatest years together. Rose knows Thibs backwards and forwards and the same thing for Thibs. They are star and coach that brought out the best in each other. But time has a way of changing exactly who people are and the NBA isn’t a sentimental league. It is what can you do for me right now.
Rose’s experience would fill a huge hole on the Wolves who need a player with post-season experience who competes hard every night and who has taken Thibs tough love and excelled. The Wolves kids need a mentor, someone who speaks their language but someone who has been where they want to go: a conference final. Plus, someone with a lot of grit and fire. That’s why the Wolves want Rose. He can break defenses down and finish. He plays hard and is a tough player who dominates the backcourt position. He is a worse passer than Rubio and his three point shot is a catastrophe but teams have to account for Rose driving by and finishing iso. Attention to Rose leaves someone open.
But why would Rose want the Wolves? They are not a contending team. They play in the point guard dominant West. In their division is Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook. The Wolves have offensive talent but don’t play defense when it counts and their toughness wavers.
Who are the Wolves? It is hard to define. They have great players. Karl-Anthony Towns was first man out of All-NBA. Most expect him to be All-NBA for a decade when he finally gets in. He can rebound, score from the left or right and protect the rim. He’s a talented passer with superior court vision. He’s good at the line, great in the locker room. His first year was baptism by fire. His second year, he played like a veteran. His third year, he has to lead.
What Rose can bring Towns and the rest of the Wolves is an upgrade. The Wolves get the benefit. But what does Rose get? The Raptors may lose Kyle Lowry. Why wouldn’t Rose want the Raptors or a team similarly constructed?
It’s hard to imagine Rose’s fondness for Thibs trumping his desire for a championship and at the very least, Rose wants to be in the playoffs, something the Wolves just cannot offer. They are still developing, still a young team, the bulk of their roster in the developmental stage. The Wolves expectations lording over them, this talented young core has pressurized their bubble. The Ricky Rubio elephant in the room continues to haunt them. Trade him? Keep him?
Same confusion with Rose. Overpay him? The Wolves can. They are way under the cap. They can accept Rose’s injury damage and get what they can from him. Or the second option for a young team trying to get into the playoffs is to forget the crazy idea about a damaged former star reuniting with his favorite coach. Forget about Derrick Rose.
photo via llananba